"Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+"
With version 10 come major changes for the well-known, powerful anti-spyware/antivirus software from LavaSoft. From the GUI to the engine powering Ad-Aware, everything is completely changed. With more than 400 million downloads worldwide, Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+, previously known as Ad-Aware Internet Security, has repeatedly proven over the years that it is capable of providing superb real-time malware protection. Let’s see how version 10 continues this legacy.
Upon entering the installation process you'll be given the option of installing the software in five different languages – English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian. The system requirements are relatively nominal, as you'll only need a recent version of Windows and at least 100 MB of free disk space. After agreeing to the terms and conditions you'll have the opportunity to check whether you'd like set your homepage to the Ad-Aware Safe Search site or install the Ad-Aware Safe Browsing module. These options are checked by default.
The Free version we tested is in fact the 30 days trial of the Pro version, which will remain free after the trial period expires, with fewer active features (the basic protection, see below), if you don’t choose to upgrade to Pro in the meantime.
The user interface is both visually appealing and easy to navigate, with appropriately categorized modules that provide easy access to Internet and System Security features. The welcome screen displays the protection status of your computer in the top right corner, and below that the functionality is split into two main modules – Basic Protection (Antivirus & Anti-Spyware, Real-Time Protection, and Gaming Mode), which are available in the Free version, and Advanced Protection (Safe Browsing, Safe Networking, E-Mail Protection, Advanced Firewall, External Storage Scan, and Shop & Bank Safely Online), available only in the Pro version.
You can quickly disable or enable each feature using the self-explanatory on/off buttons. If you click the "Get More Information" link below your computer's risk status the notification dialog will appear, listing three tabs (Current Problems, Ignored List, and Automatic List) that contain detailed descriptions of your computer's security issues. In the top right corner of the welcome screen you'll find links to the Options menu, Scan menu, View menu, Modify menu, and an Info drop-down menu that provides easy access to online support and a comprehensive user guide.
Right-clicking on the tray icon will offer you fast on|off options for the main features as well as a quick scan shortcut.
- The first thing you'll notice is the impressive upgrade from previous versions in terms of usability and resource consumption
- Immediately scans all downloads for viruses (regardless of the file format) before they can do damage to your computer
- Provides top-notch real-time heuristics scanning to keep your computer protected from malicious processes at all times
- Pro version continually protects you from e-mail borne threats by scanning all incoming Internet activity during e-mail sessions and chats
- Keeps your computer protected on an ongoing basis with frequent automatic threat updates
- Multiple scanning options let you choose specific files/folders to scan, perform a flash scan on your primary drive, or perform a full comprehensive scan on your entire computer. The Pro version even lets you choose to scan specific USB drives, discs, and other external storage devices on-demand
- Pro version includes a firewall that blocks unwanted incoming activity and prevents hackers from accessing your hard drive remotely via malicious applications
- Protects your personal credentials and passwords while you're browsing your favorite websites. The Pro version employs additional measures to keep you safe on social networks and online banking hubs.
- The integrated sandbox emulator, included in the Free version as well, automatically scans potential malicious software in a virtual environment, before it can spread to the rest of your hard drive. This component requires no user intervention nor does it act heavily on system resources.
- With less than 1% CPU use, Gaming Mode (Silent Mode) is perfect for gaming and other focus-intensive activities because it temporarily prevents Ad-Aware from initiating interruptive alerts or scans.
- When Safe Browsing mode is enabled the software automatically scans for URLs/websites that have been reported to be malicious within the Ad-Aware threat definitions network
- Performance Settings module lets you use intuitive sliders to quickly adjust the priority of four different types of scans (Quick, Full, Custom, Context Menu) to one of seven different performance levels (Idle, Lowest, Below Normal, Normal, Above Normal, Highest, and Critical)
- The integrated firewall may apply security settings that are too strict for the preferences of some users, causing favorite programs to become blocked from the Internet. However, this problem can quickly be fixed by adjusting the firewall settings.
- Being a completely new revamped tool from its previous versions, some users have encountered small bugs on occasions, but we expect them to be promptly resolved by Lavasoft in the upcoming builds.
There are several notable alternatives to Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+, including Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Spybot Search and Destroy (S&D), Super Anti-Spyware, and Spyware Terminator. Of these alternatives, Malwarebytes is the closest competitor to Ad-Aware, as it is the only one that takes a multifaceted approach to finding and removing spyware, adware, and all other types of malicious software.
If you've been looking for a powerful yet free antivirus program that will not only help you find and remove malicious software and spyware, but will also provide ongoing real-time protection, the latest Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ release is certainly worth a second look.
Requirements: Processor: 800 GHz - RAM: 1Go - Free hard disk space: 1.8Go
Top user review